David Nickles

David Nickles

Questioning Psychedelic Dogmas.

David Nickles is a moderator for the DMT-Nexus community and editor of The Nexian (The DMT-Nexus’ journal).

He has been involved in a number of psychedelic harm reduction and education projects including Kosmicare, The Open Hyperspace Traveler, and TLConscious.

He has presented on scientific and social aspects of psychedelics across the US and internationally.

David is currently working with a group of underground researchers on the Nexus’ Collaborative Research Project, which seeks to meticulously index and expand morphological, taxonomic, and phytochemical knowledge of the plants used in ayahuasca brews and other entheogenic preparations.


Presentation Abstract:

Kitchen Chemists & Capitalism:
Questioning Psychedelic Dogmas and the Exceptionalism of Ayahuasca

The psychedelic resurgence has crafted and perpetuated a number of memes that have subsequently become embedded in the fabric of public psychedelic discourse. These ideas are frequently treated as truisms with little to no discussion about their validity or legitimacy. Despite a lack of structural analysis, notions of utilizing psychedelics to effect “paradigm shifts” are a dime a dozen, while direct action appears largely absent.

As certain self-styled experts proclaim that ayahuasca should never be drunk without a “shaman,” insist that only whole plant “medicines” are legitimate, and push for new psychedelic markets—all while ignoring the implications of commodifying these plants and experiences within the contexts of capitalism and industrialization–public discourse about what these compounds and experiences have to offer is shrinking. Meanwhile, thousands of people grow and extract their own psychedelics, brew their own ayahuasca, and eschew many of the attitudes fast becoming the “mainstream” ideologies of the so-called “psychedelic community.”

Examining this growing rift necessitates questioning claims to power, modalities of engagement, and processes of commodification. If one of the most empowering aspects of psychedelic experiences is their ability to shift perspectives, then why does so much of the prevalent psychedelic discourse reflect the dominant cultures from which it originates?

More About David Nickles:

I am quite fascinated by the phenomenology of psychedelic experiences, specifically repeatably observable phenomena and shared visionary experiences, as well as archetypal encounters that appear to surpass cultural imprinting. Having found tremendous therapeutic benefits from my own use of these compounds, I’m enthusiastic about their potential medicinal applications. However, I feel that limiting our research of psychedelics to their acute medicinal benefits in disease-prevention/treatment models neglects significant components of these experiences. I’m also interested in coherent syntheses of psychedelic understandings and radical politics.

I believe in encouraging critical thinking, mutual aid, and direct action to amplify the experiences facilitated by psychedelic plants and compounds.

My practice is psychonautics and harm reduction. I am also an apprenticing glass blower.

— David Nickles

Extended Bio with Links:

David Nickles is a moderator at The DMT-Nexus and Editor of their recently created publication, The Nexian (starting with issue two). he has worked with TLConscious to create and edit promotional and instructional materials for forthcoming thin-layer chromatography kits, as well as helping with a database of TLC and reagent videos/pictures that will be accompanying the release of these kits (resulting from a partnership between TLConscious and The Bunk Police). He also helped create the first edition of The Open Hyperspace Traveler, a comprehensive harm reduction publication in progress.

In a more specific sense, some of his psychedelic interests include the phytochemistry of ayahuasca and related preparations, the isolation and biological activity of lesser-known potentially-psychedelic compounds (He is currently working on a project involving yuremamine), the spread of safe, inconspicuous, and reliably effective methods for isolating psychedelic compounds from plant materials in truly sustainable fashions, and the propagation of rare and/or ecologically threatened species, such as iboga. Nickles has presented the Nexus’ phytochemical research at Psychedemia 2012, MAPS Psychedelic Science 2013, and Aya2014. For a more comprehensive overview of the novel research taking place at the Nexus, please see this thread.

David has also spoken on the cultural implications of various facets of psychedelic experiences and have presented structural analysis of the intersection of drugs and US society. He gave a talk at the 2014 Boom Festival entitled “Turn on, Tune In, Rise Up: DMT, Globalization, and Radical Psychedelic Engagement.” Most recently, He gave a presentation at Psymposia 2015 entitled “Decriminalization & Commodification: Perspectives from the Underground.” He also presented at Breaking Convention in the UK, in July 2015, on the importance of underground research and on phytochemical research.

Recommended Reading:

The Nexian is a comprehensive review of current information regarding psychedelic plants and compounds, in both scientific and cultural contexts. This includes information regarding the identification, cultivation, extraction, and use of psychedelic substances, as well as their roles in ourselves and the world around us.

The Nexian strives to present only the most up-to-date, accurate, and well-researched information on psychedelics, from both sanctioned and underground sources. Your contributions are the lifeblood of the Nexian, without which it could not exist. Please do not hesitate to submit articles, information, or news for publication.

Selected Videos:




Psymposia 2015: Envisioning a Post Prohibition World from Psymposia on Vimeo.

We asked our diverse array of speakers, "What would the world look like without a drug war?"

Here is what they said.